Sunday, February 3, 2019

Calico Joe by John Grisham

Did you read The Bridges of Madison County when it first came out?


I did. And somehow I missed those words "a novel" on the cover.This was 1992. I read it believing it was a true story. When I finished, I rushed to the library and spent a long time in the little closet/room that held all their National Geographic magazines, looking for photographs taken by one of the main characters. Very gently, my librarian friend told me the book was fiction. 

And now it has happened again! This time, I knew Calico Joe 


was fiction, but I thought it was historical fiction about this real ballplayer, Joe Castle from Calico, Arkansas, nicknamed Calico Joe. I got about halfway through when I decided to look up Joe Castle. You guessed it. There never was a Calico Joe. I may be forgiven this time because there are a lot of real people in the book, real ballplayers I remember well. 

I loved this book. I grew up listening to the Red Sox on the radio. Whenever they were playing the radio was on in the house or in the car. In those days most of the games were during the day. It was one of the very few things my father and I shared. My mother listened too, but she wasn't as passionate about the game or the team. And I'll tell you, you had to really love the Red Sox in those days. They were in either 8th or 9th place most of my childhood. Now it is easy to be a fan because they win so much!

There is a lot of baseball in this book - stats, play-by-plays, personalities. I was riveted. However, even if you don't follow baseball there is so much human interest that I think you would be drawn into the story. The narrator is Paul Tracey looking back at 1973, 30 years ago, when he was 11. His father was a pitcher for the New York Mets. He was not a great pitcher, and he was by no means a good man. 

I don't want to tell any more because there really is a plot that is best discovered on your own. The book was published in 2012. I've recently read three of my blogging friends saying that Grisham's newer stuff isn't as good as the early books. I don't know where 2012, comes in his work, but I thought this was an excellent book. 

I've been looking back to see what books I've read by John Grisham. In the early days, I gave grades to my books.
Skipping Christmas A-  I read it twice, in 2002 and 2011. I wrote about it on the blog, here.
The Pelican Brief A
The Testament A-
The Firm A
Rogue Lawyer which I wrote just a bit about here.

I look forward to reading a lot more.

22 comments:

  1. I read a bit of Grisham years ago and The Runaway Jurh is one I still remember as very good. Grisham is very reliable

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  2. Yes, it's been a long time since I read a book by John Grisham. I have not read this one and, honestly, this one doesn't particularly appeal to me. I'm not a big baseball fan though. I did read THE FIRM, THE PELICAN BRIEF, THE RUNAWAY JURY, and probably several others of his in the early days. Not sure when I quit reading them. I think he was one of those authors that I just gradually replaced to with new finds. I have also heard that his newer books are not as good. Hope you enjoy the ones you decide to try and glad this one worked so well for you.

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    1. We'll see as I read along. I've been trying to borrow more Kindle books from the state library, and there are a lot of G's to choose from!

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  3. It's been ages since I read anything by Grisham, but I loved his early works. Time To Kill. The Pelican Brief. The Firm. Runaway Jury. The Rainmaker. You get the idea. I looked at his list of published works and he has written well over a dozen books that I haven't (and probably won't) read. This one, though, sounds like something I'd enjoy. I read A Painted House, which was a little bit of a departure from his legal novels, and I loved the baseball references. He knows his baseball! Thanks for the recommendation. You have also inspired me to re-read Wait 'Til Next Year (Doris Kearns Goodwin), which is another great baseball book. Have you read Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger? I think you'd enjoy it.

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    1. Just today when I was searching my emails for a mention of him to see what books I may have mentioned, I found one to you and K and T about hearing him on the Diane Rehm show. It was really quite wonderful (and a good distraction, for it was when M was in hospital) https://dianerehm.org/shows/2013-11-13/john-grisham-sycamore-row. I adore the DKG book, and will look for the Kluger book. Thanks.

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  4. Although I have never read any of Grisham's work and know next to nothing about baseball (it isn't really part of German popular culture), the book sounds interesting nonetheless.
    As for fiction/non fiction: When I read Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth, I was convinced some of his characters were historical, and looked them up - only to find out that they were fictional (but based on real people).

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    1. I don't think baseball is nearly as big as it used to be here. Football (not soccer) seems to be more popular. Glad to hear that you thought that about characters, too. Thanks!

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  5. Stopped by as Mage mentioned your blog. I actually do not like posts about books because I have too many to read and so little time and I this is like candy for me.

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    1. What I do is when I see a book written about that interests me, I bookmark the page into a book ideas folder, or sometimes I use the Amazon cart to store books I might want to buy someday. I can say no to candy much easier than books! haha

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  6. I did read the Bridges book, and absolutely loved it! I was very disappointed in the movie. Redford was good but I had Isabelle Rosselini in my mind for the female lead and just could not ever accept Streep in it. I used to read all the Grisham books as they came out because my son did and would loan them to me afterwards but I kind of dropped out of his later ones.

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    1. It seems a lot of people haven't read his later stuff. I'll see what I think. Though Rogue Lawyer is pretty new and I really liked it. Interesting IR in that part. I don't remember the movie. I am not a RR fan!

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    2. Nan, not even in The Way We Were? Just teasing you! I'm more of a Gregory Peck kind of girl myself.

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    3. He was such a drip in TWWW. I couldn't understand what Barbra S saw in him! She was so full of life.

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  7. My husband read some Grisham books and they must be somewhere on the shelves. I have so many books to read that I try not to be tempted by another author right now.

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  8. I'm a Grisham fan, and one of my grandsons really likes his series for kids, the one with Theador Boone, kid lawyer. But I am not a fan of baseball...I'm not sure if I've read any of his newer work.

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    1. I've seen his kid books, and I'm happy to hear that your grandson likes them!

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  9. My problem with Grisham is that once I start reading his legal thrillers, I can't put them down. I have not read this particular book. By the way, Nan, that is a lovely header picture!

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    1. That's exactly my problem! And a good one to have!
      Thank you about the header photo.

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